The traditional lead-up race to the Metropolitan could turn out to be anything but with none of the first three confirmed starters in next week’s Group One.
The Group Three Colin Stephen Quality (2400m) is often a vital lead-in to the Metropolitan but Saturday’s Rosehill winner Kelinni is not certain to back up at Randwick and the two placegetters will both miss the Sydney spring staying feature.
Kelinni ($3.50) turned in a tough staying performance, sitting three-wide and facing the breeze throughout but he was still able to hold off the Gai Waterhouse-trained Julienas ($6) by a short neck.
Favourite Strawberry Boy ($2) enjoyed a good run but couldn’t go with the other two over the final 200 metres and finished two lengths away third.
Waller already has Stout Hearted and Permit heading to the Metropolitan, and possibly last year’s winner The Verminator if there is rain about, but he is non-committal about Kelinni.
“If I think he’s good enough for Melbourne he’ll miss the Metropolitan and we’ll go to a race down there,” Waller said.
“He’ll stay all day.”
Waterhouse said she would reassess where to go with Strawberry Boy.
“But he won’t go to the Metropolitan,” Waterhouse said, adding that Newcastle Cup winner Glencadam Gold would be her only Metropolitan runner.
“Julienas will go to the Herbert Power at Caulfield next.”
Waller said Kelinni’s rivals had no excuses as the import had no favours during the race.
“He beat them fair and square,” he said.
“Julienas had the run of the race behind us. Strawberry Boy had a nice run and they are good horses. We’ve sat out three-wide from the outset without cover and he’s been too good.”
Kelinni’s victory denied Waterhouse another feature race after More Joyous won the Group Three Golden Pendant and Kabayan took out the Group Two Stan Fox Stakes.
Waterhouse did, however, bring up a stakes race treble when three-year-old filly Urban Groove won the Listed Reginald Allen Quality.
Waller said if Kelinni did miss the Metropolitan he would look at qualifying him for the Melbourne Cup.
“He’d have to please me in every facet to get there (to the Metropolitan),” Waller said.
“He’s still a progressive horse and to tackle a race like that on the back of this week would be hard. Maybe we could go to Melbourne and find a lead up to one of the Cup races. But that’s something we can look at this week.”
Last year’s Colin Stephen winner Lamasery is favourite for next Saturday’s Metropolitan having finished third in the race 12 months ago.